28 Nov 2016

HIGH FANTASY RULES - Labyrinth (1986)

 Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do High Fantasy films follow their formula?

Labyrinth (1986) is a muppet-based children's high fantasy film with a storybook feel.

The following analysis may contain spoilers for

Labyrinth (1986)

RULE #1 - The Secondary World.

"Give me the child. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great..." ~ Sarah.

1a.  Type:  Portrayed as iv. A world that people from the real world can travel to in some way, but there are hints that it's v. Represented as completely fictional (appearing in a book/dream).
1b.  Faux-medieval - No, a few elements but mostly fantastical.
1c.  Panoramic landscapes - No, mostly confined to a labyrinth, there are shots of the labyrinth, though.
1d.  Impossible buildings and landmarks - Everything's impossible.
1e.  Archaic spelling/strange names - Not to the usual degree.
1f.  Hyper-real - Yes, but dream-like.

RULE #2 - There may be sex and nudity.

"If she kisses you, I’ll turn you into a Prince." ~ Jareth.
"Really?" ~ Hoggle.
"The Prince of Eternal Stench!" ~ Jareth.

2a.  Nudity - No nudity (a film aimed at children).
i.  Female Nudity - No female nudity.
ii.  Male Nudity - No male nudity.  But some really tight tights.
2b.  Sex - No sex (a film aimed at children).
i.  Death - No sex.
ii.  Random Sex - No sex.
ii. Relationship Sex - No sex.
iii.  Rape - No sex.

RULE #3 - Characters.

"She, the monster, Sir Didymus, and the dwarf, they made it through the gate and they're on their way to the castle!" ~ Guard.

3a.  The Hero - Sarah.
3b.  The Hero's Parents - Has parents, but mentions that it's her step mother not her mother.

3c - 3i.  The Party of Adventurers
3c.  The Mentor - None.
3d.  The Heroine - None.  The baby, Toby, is the kidnapped party.
3e.  A Warrior - Ludo. Sir Didymus.
3f.  A Warrior Woman - None.
3g.  A User of Magic - None.
3h.  A Thief - Hogwart Hoggle.
3i.  A pet or other animal - Ambrosia.

3j.  King - None.  Sarah and Toby's father in a vague way.
3k.  The Hag - The Junk Lady.  No powers, but played an important role in Sarah's development.

3l.  The Dark Lord - Jareth, the Goblin King.
3m.  An evil female
i. Female Henchman - None.
ii. Member of Harem - None.
iii.  Dark Lord's Daughter - None.
3n.  Male Henchmen - Hedgewart Hogwart Hoggle, partially.
3o.  Minions - The goblins.

3o - 3q.  An Evil Person.
3o.  Grand Vizier - None.
3p.  Evil relative - None (well, a step-mother but she isn't evil-evil.)
3q.  The Priest - None.

RULE #4 - Races & Cultures.

"I wish the goblins would come and take you away! Right now!" ~ Sarah.

4a.  Homogeneous Races - Yes.

i.  Good/Evil - The goblins are evil.
ii.   Magic - Not covered.
iii.   Habitat - Everyone lives in the same labyrinth, city and castle.
4b.  Races - Along with the races below there are many magical and unique characters like double headed guardsmen and talking inanimate objects.
i.  Humans - A few humans.  Sarah and her brother, Toby, obviously, and the Goblin King probably.
ii.  Elves - No.
iii.  Dwarfs - Higgle Hoggle, and probably The Wiseman.
iii.  Halflings - No.
iv.  Fairies - Appear briefly.  They aren't nice.  The Fireies also share some of the features.
v.  Centaurs/part animals - There's an anthropromophic fox.  A talking bird hat.  A talking worm.
vi.  Giants - No.
vii.  Trolls - Not a troll, but Ludo has some of the features, being large, brutish and having a connection to rock.  Maybe a furier and with a kinder but more animalistic nature than you usually see with Trolls.
viii.  Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins - Most characters in the film are goblins.  There is a suggestion it is possible to turn human babies into goblins.
4d.  Societies - Mostly just the goblin society.
4e.  Homogeneous Culture - Goblins, sure.
4f.  Rival cultures - A lot of fear of the goblin king .

RULE #5 - Magic & Monsters

"You remind me of the babe." ~ Jareth.
"What babe?" ~ Goblin.
"The babe with the power." ~ Jareth.
"What power?" Goblin.
"The power of voodoo." ~ Jareth.
"Who do?Goblin.
"You do." ~ Jareth.
"Do what?Goblin.
"Remind me of the babe." ~ Jareth.

5a.  Magical Past - Not shown.
5b.  Low Magic Present - Not really.
5c.  Magical laws - A lot of consent laws seem to apply.
5d.  Good vs Evil - Just evil magic really.
5e.  Gendered - No.
5f.  Hereditary - Not covered.
5g.  Spells & Powers
i.  Healing - None.
ii.  Remote Viewing - Happens.
iii.  Obfuscation - Happens.
iv.  Shape changing - Happens.
v.  Necromancy - Doesn't seem to happen.
5k.  Items of Magic - David Bowie's balls.
5l.  Artifacts of Great Power - No.
5m.  Religion - No religion.
5n.  Mythical creatures - The film features a lot of mostly original fantastic creatures.
i.  Dragon - No.
ii.  Unicorns - No.
iii.  Griffins, Rocs, Sphinx - No.
iv.  Giant Things - No.
v.  Supernatural Creatures -  No.
vi.  Raised creatures - No
vii.  Nameless Beast - No.


RULE #6 - The Quest
"You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth before your baby brother becomes one of us... forever." ~ Jareth.

6a.  The Artifact - No.
6b.  Destroy the Dark Lord - Get the baby from not really destroy.
6c.  Save the Heroine - Save the baby, actually.
6d.  Unite the races/Raise an army - No.
6e.  Prophecy - No prophecy.
6f.  Other events:
i.  Win a Contest - No.
ii.  Stop an Execution - No.
iii.  Stop a Wedding - Not quite.
6g.  The Hero's Journey - See below.

RULE #7 - The Hero's Journey: Departure

"If she'd 'ave kept on goin' down that way she'd 'ave gone straight to that castle." ~ The Worm.

7a.  Secret Origin - Sarah must correct her mistake.
i.  The Chosen One - No.
ii.  Orphaned - No.
iii.  Revenge - No.
7b.  Ordinary World
i.  From Earth - Yes, Sarah is from Earth.
ii.  Peaceful Lands - See above.
7c.  Initial Tests - In the "it's not fair" mindset of Sarah she undergoes a lot of trials.j
7d.  The Call to Adventure - Sarah is forced into adventure by her own mistake.
7e.  Refusal of the Call - The refusal is in her nature, but doesn't happen.
7f.  Supernatural Aid
i.  Meeting with the Mentor - No.  Just Hogbrain Hoggle.
ii.  A supernatural guide - No.  Just Hoggle.
iii.  May be given a magic item or artifact - No.
iv.  The Party will begin to form - Yes.
7g.  Crossing the Threshold - Yes.
7h.  Belly of the Whale - Yes.

RULE #8 - The Hero's Journey: Initiation

"I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave." ~ Jareth.

8a.  The Road of Trials - There are a number of trials Sarah undergoes.
8b.  The Vision Quest - Jareth sends her on one.
8c.  The Meeting with the Goddess - Jareth is the male version - the seductive dark lord.
8d.  Lure away from Journey - Jareth deliberately does this by her to eat the drugged peach.
8e.  A Greater Power - Jareth, of course.
8f.  The Ordeal - Apotheosis/Death - Memory loss rather than death.
8g.  The Ordeal - Descent into the underworld - The collapse of her false bedroom.
8h.  The Ultimate Boon - Gains knowledge she uses later.

RULE #9 - The Hero's Journey: Return.

"That's not fair!" ~ Sarah.
"You say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is?" ~ Jareth.

9a.  Refusal of the Return - The memory loss scene flirts with this.
9b.  The Magic Flight - Almost literally.
9c.  Rescue from Without - No, left the others behind for final confrontation and saved herself. .
9d.  The Crossing of the Return Threshold - Instant.
9e.  Master of Two Worlds - She seems to have matured to a new world, but can regain the old.
9f.  Freedom to Live - Yes.

RULE #10 - Sequels/Remakes/Adaptations

"I don't know why, but every now and again in my life - for no reason at all - I need you. All of you." ~ Sarah.

10a.  Adaptation - Is not an adaptation of anything, but has a number of influences.
10b.  Sequels - Rumours of a sequel have been around for years.  A sequel manga called "Return to Labyrinth" has been released.
10c.  Remakes - Rumours of a remake have been around for years.


"I can never remember that line." ~ Sarah.

  • Rules that are followed in this film:  2, 3, 4. 8, 9, 10.
  • Rules that are partially followed, or not clear, in this film:  1, 5, 6, 7.

~ DUG.

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